Cut & Run, page 57part #1 of Cut & Run Series
“You son of a bitch,” Zane whispered through a sudden stupor.
Henninger gave a lopsided shrug and a small smile, the gun trained on Zane unerringly.
Zane remained motionless, hand lowered out to his side, injured right arm useless in its sling. “Where’s Ty?” he rasped.
“Dying,” Henninger answered bluntly, his head cocking to the side with the word.
It took everything Zane had to hold it together as agony ripped through him. “Why?”
Henninger laughed softly, amusement written all over his slightly bloody face. “You know, Grady had the good sense not to ask me such a stupid question. ”
Zane let out a shaky breath. Dying meant not dead yet. He held onto that thought tightly. “He’s a smart man. ”
“He was, indeed,” Henninger drawled. “And so are you. If you two were a little less smart we’d not have two dead agents on our hands,” he told Zane with a nod of his head at the two bodies on the floor. “Had you found my file amongst the stack, yet?” he asked.
“We got too close,” Zane realized aloud. “Just like Reilly and Sanchez. You killed them in their hotel room. You were meeting with them, weren’t you? About the case. They trusted you,” he ground out. “We trusted you. ”
“Look at me,” Henninger laughed. “Everyone trusts me, Garrett. Even strangers,” he grinned impishly.
Zane shook his head slowly, hefting his hurt arm up against him with a wince. “Why all the murders? You’re too sane for this. ”
“Stop moving, Garrett,” Henninger ordered seriously. “You know, every time someone’s asked me that I gave them the answer they wanted. It’s such a trite question, really, but it’s the only thing a dying person can think of, apparently. But you,” he went on as he began stepping a little closer, “you, I can’t read well enough to give you an answer. I’m not sure what it is you want to hear. ”
“How nice for you,” Zane snarled, pushing aside desperation for anger. “Put down the goddamn gun. ”
“You’re not really in a position to be giving orders, Special Agent Garrett,” Henninger murmured. “Any more questions before I kill you? I’m rather short on time, you see, having all these unexpected dead bodies lying around,” he said in amusement.
“What do you need from me to give me the answer?” Zane tried, wincing and gasping in pain as he bumped back against the door with his injured arm. He could feel the gun Ty had given him resting heavily in his sling, though he’d have to use his left hand to shoot.
Henninger tilted his head and narrowed his eyes, intrigued by the challenge. “Why did you come back?” he asked finally, the amusement and enjoyment clear in his voice. “Why did you come back with that asshole for a partner and the very real probability that you would die? Grady, he came back for revenge. But you? Why didn’t you just stay away? Stay away and drink and drug yourself to a quiet death?”
Zane jerked backward in apparent surprise, slamming his useless arm against the door. He yelped and grabbed for his elbow, his good hand sliding under the sling to support it. He made a conscious decision to let the pain show clearly on his face. He was going to need his strength for other things …
Weighing his options as Henninger watched in lurid amusement, Zane tried to decide what to say to get the most reaction. Enough reaction. He drew a breath. “I love him. ”
At that, Henninger stopped short in surprise. Then he began to chuckle. “Love him?” he echoed with a gleeful laugh. “Oh, that is rich! No wonder he looked so crushed when I told him it was his fault you were going to die. ”
The chilling edge of Henninger’s words cut through him, and Zane drew another breath. “I love him,” he repeated, voice stronger.
Henninger laughed harder in the face of Zane’s conviction. Within a heartbeat’s time, Zane snapped his left arm out away from him, sending the slim stiletto from its sheath hurtling toward the killer with enough speed that Henninger couldn’t dodge it. The knife buried deep into his upper chest, close to the shoulder of his gun arm.
Crying out in anger and surprise, Henninger jerked to one side as the knife hit, his gun firing uselessly off to the side, giving Zane just enough time to pull out his own gun and fire. The shot hit him in the gut—the perfect wound since Zane wanted to interrogate him as he died a slow, painful death.
Henninger staggered back, looking down at the burgeoning stain of blood in shock. Slowly his knees gave out, and he began to sink to the floor.
Arm shaking, Zane kept the gun trained on him as he stalked over and kicked the weapon out of Henninger’s hand, sending it sliding to wedge under the couch. He crouched down in front of him, took hold of the hilt of the knife sticking from Henninger’s shoulder, and twisted it hard.
Henninger cried out in shock and pain and struck out, hitting Zane’s injured hip with as much force as a fatally wounded man could muster. Zane gritted his teeth as his entire leg exploded into fire, but he kept twisting.
“Where is he?” he ground out. “Tell me where he is, and I’ll call you an ambulance. ”
The blood drained from Henninger’s face as the pain took him over.
“You’re so smart,” he slurred as he struggled weakly. “Figure it out,” he rasped.
“Talk or you can bleed out here. ”
Henninger merely laughed at him hoarsely. Growling, Zane drew back his fist and hit Henninger in the gut, close to the gunshot wound.
The edges of Henninger’s vision darkened as he gurgled and gasped, but when the pain receded he managed another laugh. “He said you’d kill me,” he murmured as blood began to dribble out of the corner of his mouth.
“He said you’d make it hurt,” he told Zane tauntingly.
Anger and terror building equally, Zane stood up and yanked the knife out of Henninger’s shoulder, ignoring the agonized cry of pain. He lifted the gun and pushed it to the killer’s forehead, staring down at the man who knelt before him. “He’s right. Where is he?”
Henninger closed his eyes and shook his head. He knew he would be handed the death penalty if they found Grady alive. He also knew, deep down, that Garrett was going to kill him even if he did tell him where Grady was.
Garrett was just that kind of guy. Grady had too much honor to do it, but Garrett would pull the trigger in a heartbeat. He probably should have taken Garrett out first, now that he thought of it.
It was too late now, considering there was also the surprising factor of the fact that he had been gut shot and was going to die a slow, painful death if Garrett didn’t do it fast. He preferred fast. It wouldn’t be difficult to get Garrett angry and make him lose his temper, and then . . . sweet oblivion.
Henninger’s lips twitched in a slow, amused smile. “You’ve thought about what happens when I die, haven’t you?” he asked in a weak, pained voice. He would win either way, even in death. “No one will believe you.
You’ll become Suspect Number One without Grady to back you up,” he said with a quiet confidence. “How will you live with knowing that it wasn’t love that made you so desperate to find him?” he asked as he opened his black eyes. “How will you remain sober?” he asked with a disdainful sneer.
“Knowing it’s only self-preservation that’s making you so desperate?”
Zane’s face went very still as his emotions settled into solid certainty, momentarily blocking out the pain. He used the gun barrel to nudge Henninger’s chin up so he could see his eyes, and he put the gun back to the other man’s forehead. Then he smiled coldly.
Henninger’s eyes flickered open, filled with a sudden doubt that quickly faded back into the depths. Out of them all, Garrett had turned out to be the biggest problem for him; like a chameleon who couldn’t decide on his color. He had been predictable at first, but then had begun to change to the point that Henninger couldn’t decide what to do with him. Even now, Henninger wasn’t sure what to do with h
Zane stood and drew a steady breath to speak. “Luckily, you don’t have to worry about that,” he said softly, then he pulled the trigger.
Henninger’s body jerked and thumped to the floor. Gathering himself, Zane went over to the window to search for the signal blocker. Finally, he found it and yanked the cord out of it, then grabbed the phone out of Ross’s limp hand and hit buttons with his thumb as he swayed dangerously. He sank to his knees as his entire right side throbbed and burned viciously. The call was answered immediately. Zane gave the codes for officers down and perpetrator down, and then the location to the best of his knowledge before tossing the phone onto the coffee table, still open so it could be traced.
Painfully, he pushed himself to his knees and crawled to check Ross for a pulse. Grimacing when he found none, Zane shifted awkwardly and moved to Sears. She was gone, too. He hung his head, an agonized whimper escaping. He looked back at the murderer’s body. No need to check a pulse there. The feeling of grim satisfaction gave him the strength to grab for the book he’d left in the armchair. The answer was in there, somewhere. He felt sure Henninger had thought of Ty as another victim, not just someone in the way. Sitting there sprawled on the floor, he started paging through it again, shaking as he prayed it would give him some clue.
“Fuck all,” he hissed toward the body. “God, please . . . Ty. . . ,” he whispered as he kept turning, story after story, anguish encroaching as no inspiration hit until he couldn’t hold it off anymore. It gripped him hard, and he curled in on himself, hot tears slipping loose and dotting the pages. He could hardly think through the pain and loss of blood.
Defeated, he looked up at Henninger’s body. Blood was matted in his hair. Ty’s blood? More stained his hands, along with traces of what looked like grit and dust from where he had laid on the concrete of the parking deck.
He must have taken Ty down with chloroform—because Zane knew Ty would have hurt him badly if he had tried some other method—hidden him away, then hit himself in the head just hard enough to make blood flow. All he had to do was lay on the ground pretending to be unconscious until someone found him.
The tears gave way to an ill resignation as Zane’s eyes continued down the killer’s body, looking for some hint. Henninger had been on his knees and fallen backward, his heels pushing to one side as he had died.
It took a long moment for Zane to register what he was seeing. The bottoms of Henninger’s dress shoes were covered in gritty, gray mud. It was ground into the treads and covered the insteps. Zane pulled himself closer, almost out of energy. Reaching out slowly, Zane drew shaking fingers down the sole, and they came away covered with thick, damp mud. He stared at the dead body. They were in the city, and it had been dry all week. Where would he find fresh mud?
"They even kept the original tunnels below the building intact…. "
“Jesus,” Zane hissed, grabbing for the book, ignoring the gritty muck coming off his hand onto the pages. He found what he was looking for: The Cask of Amontillado. “Jesus!”
Lurching to his feet, Zane collapsed again with a harsh cry, catching himself on the couch’s arm with his good hand. He was too weak, and he hurt so badly he could barely tolerate it. He focused on the one thing he could. Ty.
Ty would be going crazy, stuck somewhere small and in the dark, like in the story.
He needed something to pump him up until he could get to Ty.
Stumbling into the bedroom, he made it to the nightstand and swiped up the bottle Ty had given him. Pulling the top off, he saw the caplets marked OC inside and shook them all out onto the bed. Ten pills. Without a thought to the dosage, he scooped up a handful, tossed them in his mouth, and started chewing. The dry, sharp chemical taste filled his senses when he swallowed, and he pushed himself out to the front room again and found his gun and the bloody knife. He grabbed Sears’ gun for good measure and drew a deep breath as he felt the first wave of drug-induced energy. He wove dangerously as he headed to the door, the drugs already taking effect since he’d bypassed the time release by chewing them up. By the time he got to the elevator, the high was rushing through him.
“I’m coming, Ty,” he murmured to the closing elevator doors. “I’m coming. ”
TY struggled and called out for help until his voice was hoarse and his abused wrists were dripping blood down his arms. The chains held fast, though, and nothing but the flicker of the candle noticed his distress.
Soon he found himself hyperventilating, and he forced himself to breathe slowly in a desperate attempt to calm. He would surely die if he didn’t remain calm. He closed his eyes, but realized immediately that the darkness felt heavier without the light of the candle. He opened them and stared longingly at the bricks. They were so close in the small space, but still unreachable.
Tim Henninger—and Ty was still trying to get his mind around how horribly he had misjudged the kid—had left everything incriminating inside Ty’s tomb with him. His plastic protective gear, his tools, the bucket of drying mortar, and probably the cruelest of all, the keys to Ty’s shackles, just out of reach on the ground.
Ty looked back at the candle with a growing sense of calm. He was going to die here. In the dark. He swallowed past the tightening of his throat and watched the candle. The flame had weakened alarmingly, and now its circle of light didn’t even reach Ty’s feet. As Ty watched it, the flame went blue, stuttering in the growing darkness.
Ty took in a deep breath of the stale, damp air.